Middleton 8, Mulvey 30, Howat 38, Ross 64, Grant 89
Celtic put on an exhilarating, dynamic performance at K-Park to record a clear-cut win over Aberdeen with Alex Middleton’s opener in eight minutes the Hoops’ 900th competitive goal.
Goals were scored at regular intervals throughout the 90 minutes with a further two in the first half and another two in the second to secure a 5-0 victory for the Hoops.
The match began with a period of Celtic superiority, as the Hoops had much the greater share of the ball. In the third and fourth minutes the Dons defence was called into action as a corner was forced by Alex Middleton on the right and a Ross shot from distance stung the gloves of the Aberdeen keeper Flaherty.
Celtic’s energy, concentration and determination was incessant, limiting Aberdeen’s attacking opportunities. There was, though, an element of good fortune to Middleton’s landmark opening goal. Advancing far into Aberdeen territory from her right-back position, she delivered a high, swinging cross to the back post. The ball struck the back post and dropped narrowly over the line.
Fast, intricate passing movements among Celtic’s midfielders kept up the pressure, and once more Natalie Ross was pivotal in all of the best moves. In this she was ably assisted by Kerry Montgomery and Heather Richards who was playing in a more advanced position than usual.
In attack, the ever-dangerous and skilful pairing of Suzanne Mulvey and Ruesha Littlejohn was giving the Dons’ back line no peace. Several corners led to frantic defending and Aberdeen were fortunate not to be further behind Middleton again proved to be a thorn in the Aberdeen flesh when in 20 minutes she carried the ball into the penalty area with pace. A mistimed tackle upended the full-back and a penalty was awarded. Top-scorer Mulvey took responsibility for the spot kick, but her side-footed shot was touched on to the crossbar and over by Flaherty.
The opportunity for striker Mulvey to make amends came in 30 minutes when she dashed into the penalty area and in spite of close attention from a defender, fired the ball well beyond the reach of the keeper for her 15th goal of the season.
Aberdeen were simply not seen as an attacking force in the first half, and Celtic had many opportunities to add to their lead. Kirsty Howat in particular had several shots which failed to test the goalkeeper before steadying herself in 38 minutes to fire home from 12 yards after clever build-up play.
The three-goal margin at half-time in no way flattered Celtic and they left the field to warm applause from the spectators who had been well entertained.
Aberdeen began the second half with a pace and intent which had been absent in the first, and within minutes of the restart Celtic keeper Megan Cunningham was twice put under pressure following swift attacks by the Dons and had to make two brave interventions at the feet of their forwards.
Celtic, however, quickly steadied the ship and were soon back in control with attempts from Mulvey and Littlejohn coming close.
Ross, who was in sparkling form throughout was rewarded for her tireless work when she gained possession inside the Aberdeen box and, spinning round, shot into the goal well out of Flaherty’s reach.
The game was more open than it had been in the first-half, and Aberdeen showed a greater willingness to get forward, and when they did so, it was with some pace and accurate passing.They found Celtic’s central defenders Kelly Clark and Georgie Rafferty in their best form, though, with the result that keeper Cunningham had a very comfortable afternoon.
The scoring was completed with only a minute left when substitute Abbi Grant found space from a Littlejohn cross and finished with accuracy.
This was a very encouraging show from the Hoops with Ross outstanding, ably assisted by Montgomery, Mulvey and Littlejohn who were all influential throughout.
Celtic: Cunningham, Middleton, Clark (Connolly 79), Rafferty, Dalgliesh, Ross, Montgomery (Grant 72), Littlejohn, Howat (Paton 69), Richards, Mulvey.
Not used: Kerr.
Reported by Celtic FC
Picture: Celtic FC